By Mary Lynn Bahr
The freshly renovated Wilkinson Center just made a new link with the past.
Student Auxiliary Services commissioned illustrators Gerald Rogers, a senior from Minneapolis, Minn., and Richard Russell, a recent graduate from West Valley City, Utah, to paint a mural depicting the history of BYU. The painting was unveiled Oct. 5 and hangs in the main dining area of the Cougareat.
In designing the mural, Rogers and Russell were inspired by the vision of Alfred Kelly, the commencement speaker for BYU’s 1912 graduating class. One morning while standing on Temple Hill, Kelly saw in vision thousands of young people with shining countenances entering “temples of learning” on the then-vacant land between the Maeser Building and Rock Canyon. After Kelly shared that vision in his commencement address, university officials changed their plans to sell the vacant land–and today Kelly’s vision is reality.
“Today we are blessed by the decisions and efforts of those who came before,” says Rogers. “In the painting, Brigham Young and the pioneers represent the great vision and faith of our predecessors. The burning of Brigham Young Academy’s original building stands in the background, symbolizing the many trials BYU has overcome through the years. In the foreground, Alfred Kelly represents the many, many people that have played critical roles at crucial times. The figures on the right are all of us. We truly eat fruit from the tree which we did not plant, and now we have an opportunity to lay seeds for those who come after.”